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Keleen Kaye

Hartland, WI, United States


It started in Hartland WI, when an 5th grader and her mom learned about an old florist building, The White Elm Nursery, that was in danger of being knocked down. This building was over 100 years old and the students discovered it was a roosting place to over 1,000 Chimney Swifts. Chimney Swifts look like cigar buds, about 3 inches long and their home by choice is a chimney. Because chimneys are getting capped and lined, the Swifts numbers have decreased 40% in the last 40 years.

The student brought this problem back to her friends at school, and they decided that they needed to help the Swifts who were losing their roosting place. After attending many Village Board Meetings and being a voice for the Swifts, the Village of Hartland voted to knock The White Elm Nursery and its chimney down.

The students, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, talked to banks, the DNR, numerous Chimney Swift experts, architects and masons, looking for help and people who would support this idea that no one had tried before. Not long after they took on this project, local news stations took notice. The students were on newscasts and articles were written about the project, but the students just wanted the birds to be happy. After a couple months of planning, talking and writing, they set up a fund for donations and have been working for the past 8 months to raise money for the cost of building the new chimney. The decision was made to build the chimney at a nearby protected park with enough food, water and protection for the birds.

The students are now on a mission to raise $46,000 for this new chimney, in cooperation with the Village of Hartland, before the birds need the roosting place in August. They have been very successful in their efforts, already raising about $15,000 by getting out in the community, talking to business owners, hosting fundraisers, and more, but they still have a long way to go with just a little time.

Visit their website at, or their indiegogo crowd raising site at

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